T Rex Family

T Rex Family

Sunday, August 1, 2010

World Breastfeeding Week...

Today kicks off World Breastfeeding Week. I've hinted that my policy change paper for my summer school class - Health Care Policy and Finance - was about breastfeeding. Specifically, it was about protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding and the existing state and federal laws pertaining to it.

There is so much I would love to tell you about the benefits of human breast milk and why I consider breastfeeding a health choice not a lifestyle choice. I know breastfeeding is not for everyone and that is not what my paper was about. And this posting is not meant to alienate women who do not breastfeed their children.

Rather, I feel strongly that women who do make the choice to breastfeed should be supported and allowed to nurse their baby any place they have a right to be. And in the state in which I live, there is not a law protecting my right to do so. Maybe a law is not necessary but what if I were asked to leave a public establishment because I was breastfeeding my child? What could I do?

Currently, the only state law in Idaho pertaining to breastfeeding says I can postpone jury duty due to nursing. Whereas, Vermont's breastfeeding laws include provisions that say breastfeeding should be encouraged, allowed anywhere a mother has a right to be, materials are published on the rights of breastfeeding women, and employers are to provider reasonable time for milk expression (not a bathroom), and there is to be workplace education and promotion. West Virginia is the only state without any kind of state breastfeeding law. You can see the two opposite ends of the spectrum. If you are curious what the laws are for your state, here is an excellent resource.

While some may feel breastfeeding legislation is unnecessary because it is an implied right, the La Leche League states any legislation dealing with the topic is a positive step because it recognizes its importance, and it also implies the decision to breastfeed is a health choice and not a lifestyle choice. Additionally, they state the intent of breastfeeding legislation is not to make it legal but rather to clarify that women do have the right to nurse in public and that there is no criminal offense, such as indecent exposure, involved.

So, why do I feel so strongly about breastfeeding and the support, promotion, and protection of it? Aside from
these facts: Breastfeeding contributes to the health and well-being of mothers, it helps to space children, reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer, increases family and national resources, is a secure way of feeding and is safe for the environment. Consider the following:

“If a new vaccine became available that could prevent one million or more child deaths a year, and that was moreover cheap, safe, administered orally, and required no cold chain, it would become an immediate public health imperative” (EU Project on Promotion of Breastfeeding in Europe, 2004, p. 9). Then consider saving $3.6 billion dollars if exclusive breastfeeding rates increased to the Healthy People 2010 goals (early postpartum period 75%, six months 50%, and at twelve months 25%). Add to this the endorsement of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association of breastfeeding being the most beneficial method to ensure the health and well being of infants.

I nursed T Rex until he was 18 months old. I probably would have gone a bit longer but I was so sick from being pregnant with T Rex Princess that I was becoming dehydrated and had to stop. I've nursed Bebe Sister (aka T Rex Princess) exclusively. I plan on continuing as long as the experience is mutually pleasant for both of us. I feel so fortunate that I have had this opportunity. It is an experience so unique - there is no other like it.

Regardless of whether you breastfeed/fed your own children or not, all I ask is that you support and encourage the women who do. There are peaks and troughs of how easy and hard it is and when a woman is experiencing one of those challenging moments, sometimes even the smallest amount of encouragement might help her make it another day, week, or month. And every little bit helps. Helps keep moms and babies healthier and decreases the overall cost to the health care system.

I welcome your thoughts - do you think there should be legislation? Why or why not? What has been your experience with breastfeeding - either as a mother or a support person? Does it make you uncomfortable when you see a woman breastfeeding in public? How do you think woman can be supported while they are breastfeeding regardless of whether it's in public or private?

(Yes, the photo, albeit not the most flattering, is of me breastfeeding at our local park while T Rex was playing on the jungle gy


Katie said...

I made it 6 months with my son. I fully support a woman's right to nurse in public, I nursed in public when Alex was a baby, and I'd do it again.

Caitlin said...

Very sweet picture and awesome post. I would love to read that paper- it sounds VERY interesting- would you email it to me?
Also, like your blog header!

I am putting together a breastfeeding post too- great minds think alike!

angie said...

I breastfeed my first three kids for well over a year each. Didn't breast feed my twins at all. I remember getting comments with my first three like they'd die if I didn't breastfeed....I think if everyone was just a little tolerate and supportive of either option the world would be a better place. :)

septembermom said...

I think breastfeeding should be supported through legislation. I nursed in public with my four babies and often felt like I was an outcast. Great post!

Emily said...

Hooray for Breastfeeding....it's such a blessing!

I nursed my first two for 18 months each and hopefully will be able to do the same with this baby. With my older two, I started introducing 'solid food' around 6 months...with McCoy, I hope to nurse exclusively for at least a year.

Although, I do not like to nurse in public...I definitely think it should be an option and am not bothered by women who do.

great post....as always!

Kim said...

I know we've discussed this before but I support your position about breastfeeding. I loved nursing Deaglan and was so very sad when we stopped at 18 months so I could get ready to try for Naveen. I plan to go just as long with my second boy. Your post made me think about looking into Canada`s laws specifically my province`s.

mitchsmom said...

Of course, I'm sure you know that I support legislation. It would be nice if it weren't necessary, if breastfeeding were universally regarded as the normal thing that it is, but it isn't understood that way by everyone. Having laws to protects it has the effect of educating people that it is important and actually does protect women.

When I started working in an IBCLC role, I didn't really think that patients would need/ask about the laws but I have been surprised how many have been interested and requested copies and cards with our FL state (and now national (pumping) laws. This has been a pleasant surprise. Usually that tells me that they are planning to, or at least thinking about, continuing to breastfeed (pump at work) & that has traditionally been a big stumbling block for women, with many planning to "nurse until I go back to work" (which is not very long for most new mothers these days).

Thanks for the post! :)

Jenners said...

Hey ... you did some redesigning while I was gone .. I like it!

And I agree with you 100% -- women should be given every right to breastfeed their children in a comfortable and safe environment without having to worry about getting in trouble or being harassed.

BallerinaBiker said...

Breastfeeding all three of my children was the best decision I ever made. You're post was so inspiring. I hope you got an A+ on your paper! Mothers shouldn't have to hide from the public to feed their baby; however, I do believe they should try to stay modest at the same time. When I didn't have a blanket or a nursing cover, at least I'd use one of my burp cloths to stay decent!

zombiemom said...

100% agree! I find it crazy that some people actually think it weird or gross to breastfeed! Thats what boobies are for!
I didn't get to breastfeed as long as I wanted to. Sage was just too independent and with Deni I just did't have the supply like I did with the other two. I nursed True the longest at almost a year. One of my favorite parts about being a new mommy!

Sarahmomof5 said...

I breastfed my first three for almost two years each, my twins however were given bottles (breastmilk only) during their 10 day stay in the NICU and this made it so hard to get them to finally breastfeed when we got home, They quit at 6 months but I was glad we got that time in. Glad to hear there are so many women that support it. I agree that there are so many benefits and it is such a great experience. It made me sad when my twins wanted to stop but I was a human milk machine for 6 months :)

Julie Kieras said...

I think it's a great photo! :) Such a great post about breastfeeding! I am going to be starting a series on breastfeeding this weekend on my blog!
http://ayearwithmomanddad.blogspot.com! Stop by and check it out! :)